Architectural Acoustics, Room Acoustics

Designing for acoustics in architecture is as much an art as it is a science. Achieving excellent space and room acoustics, good sound isolation, and low levels of noise and vibration in a structure requires a unique skill set which encompasses not only acoustical engineering knowledge and experience but also good creative intuition and judgment.

HGC Engineering has extensive experience in the design of architectural acoustics for all manner of acoustically demanding and sensitive spaces including performance and lecture theatres, places of worship, sports arenas, courtrooms, recording studios and broadcast centres, libraries, museums and acoustical test facilities.

Moreover, one of the principals of HGC Engineering is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Waterloo’s School of Architecture and lectures frequently at Dalhousie University’s School of Architecture on Acoustics in architecture.

We have also performed acoustical consulting for a variety of Green Building projects, which have become more prevalent in recent years. There are special challenges to developing good practices in acoustics for LEED and WELL Certified buildings, and we are familiar with the acoustical implications associated with their associated systems, standards and certification processes.

Our Acoustical Consulting Services for Architectural Spaces Include:

  • Site Visit and Preliminary Drawing Review – We will first meet with project team members and review general expectations, the types of activities anticipated in the building and the acoustical requirements. If the project is an expansion or renovation, we will also visit the existing building, and conduct measurements of the levels of reverberation and background sound. We will review the design with respect to criteria (Noise Criteria (NC) or Room Criteria (NC) Levels, Reverberation Time, Noise Isolation, Speech Intelligibility, masking sound levels etc.) and good engineering practices, considering the spatial separations and acoustic privacy expectations, space stacking and general building services and general occupancy concerns. The criteria will then be set based on the review, the meeting with team members and measurements gathered, if any. The criteria targets will address spaces within the building as well as suggested limits for impact on adjacent areas. We will also provide acoustical criteria for background sound levels from HVAC systems. The amount of background noise is a critical component of the perceived and achieved “acoustics” of a space. The degree of background noise is also an important factor in regards to privacy and freedom from distraction. A criteria report will be prepared and circulated outlining the recommended criteria and comments on the schematic design, for discussion purposes. We will review the preliminary architectural drawings prepared looking at proposed room volumes, geometry and surface treatments to develop an opinion of the expected acoustical qualities. Conceptual recommendations will be provided to give guidance during design/development with regard to the acoustics in these spaces to achieve the reverberation criteria and good sound system performance, if that is a requirement.
  • Design Development – Before the design drawings are complete, we will develop an analytical computer model of the interior acoustics. The model will be used to predict, through calculation, the expected levels of reverberation. The predicted acoustic characteristics will be evaluated with respect to the reverberation criteria to address speech intelligibility or musical quality if applicable. Where necessary, we will provide recommendations to optimize the interior acoustics and sound system performance with regard to the location and specification of interior surface treatments. A concise report will be prepared summarizing the results of the analysis and recommendations. Sketches, material specifications and the names of suppliers will be provided as necessary.

Case Studies

Sun Life Financial Tower + Harbour Plaza Residences

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L.R. Wilson Hall for Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences, McMaster University

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HGC has contributed knowledge, skills and experience to the education of young architects at Waterloo for two decades and made repeated contributions of technical expertise to institutions in the local area. Both the generosity and ability as teachers are extraordinary.”

Rick Haldenby, O'Donovan Director

University of Waterloo, School of Architecture

Over the years we have worked HGC on numerous projects ranging from 1300 seat performance auditoriums to 300 seat churches and in all cases we have been impressed with the high level of service and the excellent results. Our clients have all been very complimentary on the excellent acoustic results in their buildings.”

David Parker, President

Parker Architects

I first used HGC expertise some 17 years ago to solve a very tricky problem with commercial exhaust fan noise on a hotel project. HGC’s solution was so effective in reducing the fan noise level that it quelled all complaints from neighbors. Since that time I have used HGC expertise on a variety of Independent School projects with the primary emphasis on sound attenuation within the buildings and help with theatre acoustics. They are consummate professionals.”

Les Andrew, Principal

Andrew Incorporated Architect

We have worked with HGC Engineering on multiple projects in which the acoustics of a space has been critical.  This includes two performance theatres, university teaching environments, and multiple churches.  In all instances, we have been very pleased with the results.”

Lawrie Carter, Principal

Architecture Incorporated

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Call: 1-833-205-7300

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